20131202 Devotion adds flame to charity 虔誠熾熱愛心

In the last few months we have looked at the lives of the children of Fatima, modern saints and blesseds, and founders of ecclesial movements and communities. The teachings and examples of these holy people point to the “universal call to holiness.”
You can review these articles at my personal site (www.fatheranthonyho.com). Starting this week, we are going to explore the spiritual life based on the spiritual classic of St. Francis de Sales (1567-1622): An Introduction to the Devout Life.
Devotion and love of God are inseparable. St. Francis wrote, “As charity leads us to obey and fulfill all God’s commandments, so devotion leads us to obey them with promptitude and diligence.”
The saint pointed out that charity and devotion differ no more than flame and fire. “Charity is a spiritual fire which, when it flames brightly, becomes devotion; and devotion adds to the fire of charity a flame which renders it ready, active, and diligent, not only in keeping His commandments, but in carrying out His heavenly inspirations and counsels of perfection.”
St. Therese of Lisieux said, “Sanctity does not consist in this or that practice, but in a disposition of heart which makes us humble and small in the arms of God.”
Holiness consists not in the multiplication of devotional practices, but in the fulfillment of the will of God in the ordinariness of daily life.

Devotion is joyful
St. Francis de Sales pointed out that a devout life is not sad and gloomy, but happy and lovely. St. Teresa of Avila said, “A sad nun is a bad nun. I am more afraid of one unhappy sister than a crowd of evil spirits.”
“What would happen if we hid what little sense of humour we have? Let each of us humbly use this to cheer others.” She prayed, “God deliver me from sad-faced saints.”
Saints are not sad. They are people filled with joy, which is the fruit of charity.
“Devotion” is spiritual sugar which gives sweetness to mortification, disciplines, penance, sacrifice, and suffering. The devout life is like a ladder which allows us to descend in action to the aid of neighbour and to ascend in contemplation to a loving union with God. Living the devout life means finding true happiness in God, and sharing this happiness with others.

Devotion is universal
The “universal call to holiness” is an important theme of the Second Vatican Council and the Pontificate of Blessed John Paul II.
St. Francis de Sales pointed out that devotion is suitable to all kinds of vocations and professions. “The practice of devotion must be adapted to the capabilities, the engagements, and the duties of each individual,” for “true devotion hinders no one, but rather it perfects everything, and whenever it is out of keeping with any person’s legitimate vocation, it must be spurious.”
To live the devout life, one must fulfill one’s daily duties out of love for God. St. Josemaria Escriva teaches us that all the faithful are called to be holy through work.
He wrote, “It is we, men walking in the street, ordinary Christians immersed in the bloodstream of society, whom Our Lord wants to be saints and apostles, in the very midst of our professional work; that is, sanctifying our job in life, sanctifying ourselves in it, and through it, helping others to sanctify themselves as well.”
“Do everything for Love. Thus there will be no little things: everything will be big. Perseverance in little things for Love is heroism.”
Blessed John Paul II said, “True holiness does not mean a flight from the world; rather it lies in the effort to incarnate the Gospel in everyday life: in the family, at school and at work, and in social and political involvement.”

過去數月,我們談及花地瑪的三個小童、現代一些真福聖者和聖人,也提到一些創建平信徒團體及運動的哲賢,他們給我們有著同樣的啟發,就是「普世被召叫成聖」。歡迎到我的網站www.fatheranthonyho.com重溫這些文章。從本週起,我們按方濟.沙雷(1567-1622)的神修巨箸「導入虔敬的生活」,探討一下什麼是靈修。

虔誠的心跟愛天主的心是不可分割。聖方濟寫著:「愛德使我們服從並遵從天主的誡命;虔誠使我們爽快和勤奮地去服從誡命。」聖人以愛德和虔誠比喻為火和火焰:「愛德是神火,當它燒得光亮時,便成為虔敬。虔敬為愛德之火加上火焰,使它能隨時隨地、積極和努力地克守天主誡命,更願意遵從祂的啟發和成聖的勸喻。」

聖女小德蘭說:「成聖不在於作這些或那些神業,而是在於使我們謙虛及在天主雙臂中變得緲少的心態。」成聖並非只基於增多熱心的神業,卻有賴在日常的平凡生活中,實行天主的聖意。

 

喜樂的虔誠

聖方濟.沙雷指出,虔誠的生活不是哀愁憂鬱,反而是快樂可愛。聖女大德蘭說:「愁眉苦臉的修女,不會是個好的修女。我怕一個不快樂的修女,多過怕一群凶惡的魔鬼… 把內心僅有的幽默感都收藏起來,你可想像情況會怎樣?讓我們每個人,謙卑地運用自己的幽默,以娛他人。」她祈禱說:「天主,救我於苦臉的聖人。」聖人不會是憂鬱的人,他們是充滿喜樂,因為那是愛德的果實。

「虔誠」是靈性的甜糖,令克苦、修行、補贖、犧牲和受苦,都一一感到甘飴。虔誠靈修的生活,好像一條雙向上落的梯子,一面向下以行動幫助近人,另一面向上在默觀中與天主的愛共融。虔誠的靈修,是在天主內尋找真愛,然後和其它人分享這份真愛。

普世的虔誠

「普世成聖的召叫」是梵蒂崗第二次大公會議一項重要議題,也是真福教宗若望保祿二世所強調。聖方濟.沙雷曾指出,處於不同聖召或職業的人,都可渡虔敬的生活:「虔敬的修煉要迎合個人的能力、交往或職責。」因為「真正的虔誠,不會窒礙人,反而幫助所有事情達致完滿。虔誠一旦超越了個人聖召合理的範圍,便是偽虔誠。」

要渡虔誠的生活,必需每天為愛天主而善盡本份。聖施禮華神父教我們,信友們是在他們的工作中被召叫成聖。聖人寫道:「那就是我們,每天活在社群中,在街上與別人無異地熙來攘往,被天主召叫在我們的專業工作中成聖人和使徒。我們要在生命中聖化工作,在工作中聖化自己,並藉工作幫助他人成聖。」「 為了愛而做每一件事。因而將沒有微不足道的事:每件事都是偉大的。為了愛而在小事情上恆心到底是英雄的表現。」

真福教宗若望保祿二世曾說:「真正的聖善並非脫離現實,卻是在日常生活中,在我們的家庭、學校、辦公室、社會和政治活動中,體現福音。」

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